Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Archibald Barwick diary, 22 August 1914-September 1915
MLMSS 1493/Box 1/Item 1
Archibald Albert Barwick, who joined the First AIF in Sydney in late August 1914, served right through the war on Gallipoli and on the Western Front. This first diary, much written retrospectively, includes the start of his military career in Sydney with induction at Randwick and training at Kensington, sailing through the Suez Canal to Alexandria and Cairo, desert training in Mena, the voyage from Alexandria to Lemnos, Greece and landing at Gallipoli]
Bravest where half a world of men
Are brave beyond all earths reward's
So stoutly none shall charge again
Till the last breaking of the swords
Wounded or hale won home from war
Or yonder by the "Lone Pine" laid
Give him his due for evermore
"The bravest thing God ever made"
"Extract from London Punch"
"The Australian." A British officers opinion of them
"The skies that arched his land were blue,
His bush born winds were warm & sweet,
And yet from earliest hour's he knew,
The tides of victory to defeat.
From fierce floods thundering at his birth
From red droughts ravening while he played
He learned to fear no foes on earth
"The bravest thing God ever made"
The bugles of the Motherland
Rang ceaselessly across the sea
To call him & his lean brown hand
To shape Imperial destiny.
He went by youths grave purpose willed
The goal unknown, the cost unweighed,
The promise of his blood fulfilled,
"The bravest thing God ever made"
We know it is our deathless pride,
The splendour of his first fierce blow
How reckless, glorious, undenied,
He stormed those steel lined cliffs we know
And none who saw him scale the height
Behind his reeking bayonet-blade
Would rob him of his title-right.
"The bravest thing God ever made"
Diary of No. 914 A.A. Barwick. C. Company, 1st Battalion
In this journal I am going to put forward to the best of my ability a few of my impressions, & experiences since joining the Army.
Well I will start first of all from the time I left "Surveyor's Creek" in New England, New South Wales. how pleased I was, one fine Sat. morning, to find in the mail box a letter bearing the Government stamp addressed to me, I was almost afraid to open it for fear it might say that I was unsuitable, for the Force, but I plucked up courage & opened it, & to my great joy & no less surprise, I was requested to report at once to Victoria Barrack's in Sydney for medical inspection, I think I threw 2 or 3 somersaults,
when I finished reading the note for we were all more or less crazy at that time, I was pretty sure I could pass the Dr. as far as medical fitness went, for I had just been through a fairly stiff examination for the A M.P. but I was not so sure about my height, so I took the precaution to write to Colonel Antill, & ask him if my height (5ft 4.) would pass & the note I had just received was his answer.
On receipt of the note I straight away telephoned to Mr. Mitchell at Rutherglen" telling him of my decision, & that I would be coming down on that nights train (Glen Innes) passenger, & he said he would meet me that night at Danglemah, as he & Mrs Mitchell were going to Sydney
so you see it was pretty short notice I made a rapid pack up, & said good-bye to as many of my friends as I could & that night young Golledge drove me to Walcha Road where I caught the train, & so away. at Danglemah Mr. & Mrs Mitchell got in, I well remember the ride down in the train the night was very frosty & cold & in spite of rugs & footwarmers I nearly perished, we arrived in Sydney on a Sunday morning, & I went & took a room for the night, I did not go out on the Sunday night, for I was pretty tired. & very sleepy
The following morning found me making my way to Victoria Barrack's & after some sparring about & a lot of questioning, I was taken into a room, & given some papers to fill
in, there were about 30 questions we had to answer on this paper, & by the time you had finished filling them in, what they did not know about you, wasn't worth knowing provided you spoke the truth.
after this was over we had to line up with our papers in hand & wait our turn, to see the Colonel, the chaps all spoke of him as being an old tiger & so we were all more or less afraid when our turn came, however he must have been in a particularly good humour this morning, for he when he had a look at my papers he only put a few short sharp questions to me, & marked my paper's as accepted as we came out from this ordeal we were formed into different squads & marched off some to Kensington &
some to Randwick racecourse, on arrival there we were formed up in two ranks, & Captain Jackson came along & picked so many men out for his company (old H), I was among these, & that is how I came to be in the 1st Battalion, after this was over, we had all our names taken again, & then we went down to dinner I shall never forget that dinner as long as I live, just imagine about 600 men all shouting, & talking at the one time, & some of the language was pretty warm I can tell you, for dinner we had "what do you think" roast beef, no chance, for the tables were laid with big boiled potatoes with their skins on, & great junks of bully beef ho, ho, I thought so this is how things are carried on, eh well that's no good
to me, so I & a few more does a get & goes into town for our dinner, that sort of tucker was going to take some getting used to, after the way I had been living, there was not the slightest sign of any system when first I joined, for things were in a terrible state at that time, for the war had caught the authorities totally unprepared, however after a couple of weeks they began to get in to their stride, & after a little time we settled down to it as well as could be expected.
That afternoon was the 24th August 1914. & from that date my military career started. I went out to see Mr Mitchell at Croydon that afternoon, stopped & had a good yarn with him, & later on I went back to town & stopped at the Peoples
Palace that night. I rose fairly early the next morning, & caught the Coogee tram, & went back to Randwick arrived there in time for roll call, & had a sort of breakfast, on tea jam & bread, after this we fell in for drill, what a crowd we were, I suppose there were 9 out of 10 who had never formed four's in their life before, & I was one of them, it was funny to see us trying to get through the most simplest movements, & getting completely boxed up, it was about 3 weeks before, I mastered the form fours properly, I could never remember whether it was the odd or even numbers who had to move we were enough to break any drill instructors heart, & when some of them were spoken to they used
to get quite shirty about it, however they knocked us into some sort of a shape, by the time we left Randwick, to go to Kensington, the day we shifted we had our first route march with full kits up, & water bottles empty, the march was about 8 miles, it seemed more like 20 by the time we finished, every one was glad to see that our tents were up as we marched in. that night we had a good square meal, & by this time we were beginning to get used to roughing it, though I had a terrible cold, I think it was the worst one I ever remember having, I tried all sorts of things to shake it off but all to no good, & I think it cured itself in the end.
By the time we all had our Kakhi
& how proud we all were to get it, our company was one of the first to get properly equipped, & we were not slow to remind the others of the fact who I am sure were quite jealous of us, for there was the keenest of rivalry between the different companies & this holds good even now
There is not much to say about the drill here at Kensington, but they worked us pretty hard, & we were fast coming on, we had plenty of route marches, & a fair bit of musketry, which we used to do at the Long Bay rifle range, the first time I shot on this range I got 2 possibles, in spite of the kicking rifle, for you know when a rifle is new it kicks pretty solid for about 50 shots & then
the rifling in the barrel gives a little it was out at the Long Bay range that I first saw a machine gun in action, & I had my eyes opened, after they got my scores, I used to generally be sent along with a few others to do the marking, & a good job, it was for we used to ride both ways on the tram, & so we were saved the long walk, when the others had finished firing the markers used to come down & have a cut. By this time I was thoroughly enjoying the life for I had got to know a good few chaps, & was beginning to get into my stride & each day was a pleasure, we had good officers, at this time Shortly after this I joined the signallers, but I could not
take any interest in it for a long time, I simply couldn't put my mind to it, though now I like signalling well, our food was much improved here, a typical breakfast this would be, viz. chops or steak, plenty of bread, butter & jam, whips of tea for dinner we generally had a stew or roast with onions, cabbage, potatoes & etc. for tea at night they always turned out boiled potatoes, what for I don't know for no one used to eat them, we always had plenty of good tea, or coffee & stacks of bread butter jam & etc. it was shameful to see the bread that was wasted there, & the jam we had tons of it good jam it was to, nearly all from Jones factory at Hobart.
we used to have good times at Kenso for most of the chaps had friends & relations, & they used to bring big hamper's of all sorts of good things, & of course the boys would share them round.
It was here that Reg Duke & myself chummed up, & a right good mate he was, we used to have some good times together.
Not so very long before we left Kensington Len came down from Scone to see me, & while there he kidded me to have my photo taken in my equipment, I have regretted ever since, that those photos ever reached home, if I could lay my hands on them, I don't think they would live long, a chap looks a perfect fool in them
While training here, I first came in proper contact with drink, & my determination never to touch it was strengthened properly, I saw enough to convince me for the rest of my life of the evils arising from the curse, lots of our chaps only lived for pay-day, & as soon as they got their money, off to town, & straight to the pubs, they would go, next morning would find them with a big head, a terrible thirst, & empty pockets, & they would be humming for the rest of the week, it used to be funny some nights, when the chaps would be coming home late, & had to pass through the guard at the gate, the majority of the revellers would have bottles with them, & if the sentry was a thirsty soul, he
he would give the order "halt bottle pass soldier", & if they had a bottle with them they were right, & if they could not produce the needful, well into the guard tent he would go. One night we had a terribly heavy thunderstorm, the rain fairly fell down, & in about an hour's time the whole of our camp was under water most of us laid in bed till the water started to carry us off, & then we were forced up, the drunks got a terrible ducking that night, one of them came into our tent with only his shirt on, & an entrenching tool in his hand, & started to dig a gutter round the tent pole to let the water off, not bad was it we got a proper soaking that night all our clothes & equipment were carried
away by the water, so that night a lot of us camped under & on the grand-stand, & needless to say we passed a most miserable night, next day however most of us got dry clothes & blankets. A fair sample of the days work here would be reveille at 6 o'clock physical exercise from half past six till 7. breakfast at 7.30. fall in at 8. we then would drill till 12. dinner at 12.30. parade again at 2.30. till 4.30. tea 5 o'clock night march or something from 7. till 8.30 & sometimes as late as 9 o'clock so you see they kept us going, they used to cull a certain number from each company nearly every day so that kept us up to the scratch. We used to have some bonzer route marches at times, one of the best
was the one we had to La Perouse we all enjoyed our march to there it was a bonzer day, & we camped on a lovely green patch of grass over looking the ocean, we had our dinner there on the grass, & then we all went for a swim, & the water was bonzer we had several marches through the suburbs of Sydney, & the people used to turn out in thousands to see the boy's marching, during these marches we used to get plenty of chocolate cigarettes, fruit & etc. from the people in the street who were very good to us, but one fine day we had a big march through the streets of Sydney itself, I remember it well for it was a very hot day, & marching down the closely packed streets was worse than 100 in the shade.
All along the route the streets were absolutely packed, & opposite St Marys Cathedral they were about 100 deep even trees were full we went down as far as Hunter Street, & then turned up George Street & from there back to camp at Kensington without a spell I think they were afraid to let the men fall out, for fear they wouldn't turn up again in time for the march back I think that was the most tiring march I have ever been on, & I have taken part in a few pretty solid ones. After we had been in camp about a month we began to think we were fully trained & ready to have a cut at anything, & so the rumours began to fly about, that we would be sailing any day, you can't beat a military camp for rumours, the little
country townships haven't got a look in with the camps, once these rumours go going, we got fresh ones every day, & some of them were very funny, but most of them seemed to come from the cook's or the pieman.
I saw the first aeroplane of my life here, it was a Frenchman flying over Randwick early in the morning, we were doing our physical drill at the time, & I can tell you there was not much notice taken while the aeroplane was in sight we nearly screwed our necks off.
It took me some time to forget the life I had been leading previous to joining, I was alway's on the look out rain, grass horses bird's weather & such like things, instead
of letting others do the thinking for was I not in the military, where if they follow Imperial regulations they would try & make you a machine but they will, never, never, do that with Australians, we are not a bit better disciplined to-day than we were 18 months ago, & I don't think, judging by what I have seen of well disciplined troops that we are any the worse for it. I think once a chap gets a liking for the country, he will never be able to shake it off no more I know I am full up of the cities, & only long for the country life again. We had a medical examination nearly every week they were determined to find out all the weak ones before we sailed from Australia & I think they succeded as far as that went.
About a week before we left for the troopship's we had a pretty severe course of musketry, & skirmishing at Long Bay, & we bivouacked for the night pretty close to Little Bay, we had outposts, entries, & picquets out just as if we were expecting an attack from an enemy, & when morning came most of the outposts were in town, the sentries were asleep & the picquets were missing, nice state of affairs, but nothing came of it only a good lecture from the Colonel. About tea time one night an order came round from Brigade Hqr's to the effect that every one was to be ready to move off in the morning wasn't there some noise, & everyone rushing about packing up their black bags, & getting things
ready for the morning, there was not much sleep I can tell you that night, at reveille, everyone rose at once & dressed, & got ready to move when like a bombshell we got an order from Hqr's to carry on with the training, you should have seen our faces we were thoroughly disappointed, & did not care how things went, we all thought then that we would never get away, but would be kept in Australia till the end of the war, I forgot to mention that some time previous to this we had a set of brass instruments presented to our band by the French residents of Sydney, they also gave a fine Australian flag to the 2nd Battalion, & another day we had a big review, & a march past
the Governor General of Australia who afterwards inspected us. Shortly after this the situation began to develop. Some of our chaps were sent down to the troopship to paint the numbers on our hammocks & mess tables etc etc., with that new our hopes rose again, & we went to work with a will.
We were inoculated several times at Kenso for various diseases, the second inoculation for typhoid was a pretty severe one, I know I had a mighty sore & swollen arm while some of the chaps were sent to hospital it affected them so much, I believe in inoculation & vaccination, & my experience so far in the Army has proved the worth & wisdom of it.
[18th October 1914]
A few days after this, we were ordered to hold ourselves in readiness to move at any time, but we did not place much reliance on it for we had had so many false alarms that we did not know (how) to take it but the morning of the 18th of October, broke dull & stormy, & as we formed up on the parade ground at 6.30. in readiness to march off it started to rain slowly, but we did not mind that for it seemed as if our wish was at last to be fulfilled, & that we were really going to move at last, the march through the streets was very quiet for they took us round the quiet
the way so as to avoid the people, but before we reached the wharfs a pretty big bunch of people had
collected, & we had a job to get through them in places, they gave us all sorts of things, as we passed them, & there were a few tearful scenes, but they got us away well, as each company passed through the barrier, they were checked, & marched straight off to the ferry boat, & they lost no time in getting us over to the A.19. (Afric), by the time the last of the men were on board the streets & Botanical Garden's were alive with people in spite of the rain which was now falling fairly heavy but they were too late, & there was many a chap on the boat who they would never see again, & who no doubt was taking a last look at old Sydney
& wondering when he would see it again, I know I was one of those chaps & those were some of the thoughts that passed through my wooden head, as soon as we got on the ship we were taken down to our troop decks, & our different portions allotted to us our company was very fortunate for we had as good a place as any in the ship we were on the first deck on the star-board side just close to the poop, after all this was settled we were served with some hot soup & bread, & we then made for the deck to see what was going on in the harbour, the crowd of people had increased if anything, but the rain was still falling , but showed signs
even then I was feeling a bit funny & I am sure I was turning yellowish however I had not long to wait for I was soon feeding the fishes with a vengeance, & I might add right here that I was not the only one at the game oh no "I had plenty of mates in the same boat as myself we were hanging on all over the place, & I am sure I did not care if the whole concern went to the bottom, shows you how selfish a man is don't it, poor old Dukey was very crook he was bad right up to Albany I done what I could for him the only thing he could keep down was biscuits soaked in water & I used to get them ready for him my attack of sea sickness did
not last very long fortunately for the second day out I was feeling all right, we skirted the coast most of the way down, & the afternoon of the second day at sea we ran into & through a group of very rocky & bare little islands just off Wilson's Promontory there were a lot of birds round these islands & we sighted a whale blowing & also a full rigged sailing ship she looked from a distance like a great white bird, & that night we passed several passenger ships making for Sydney, they looked capital with all their lights shining we thought once that we were going to Hobart, but no such luck, & then again Melbourne was suggested, but we were all out of it
for we passed them both, the third day out I think most of us had been all over the ship, & knew our way about alright our ship was armed, we had 2 gun
s crews of naval Reserves on board, & on our poop we had 2, 4.7 mounted in case we had to defend ourselves but they were useless against anything but armed merchantmen like ourselves, the way our troop decks were arranged we used to eat & sleep in the same place all along the side mess tables were built running crossway's in the ship all these tables were numbered & each table had a number of men (36) detailed off for the trip, each table had 2 permanent mess-orderlys who were exempt from
all other duties, while they were on the job, after breakfast every one had to get up on deck for an hour to give the orderly's time to get things cleaned up down below in time for the ships inspection, which was made every morning by the ships captain. Dr. & some of our officers, after this was over the ship was free for the rest of the day, we slept in hammocks slung from hooks, let into the ceiling each hammock was also numbered so as there would be no necessary confusion, & each man had his own number, we were all supplied with 2 snow white blankets each, we used to have some fun I can tell you of a night rocking one anothers hammocks some of
the chaps used to get mad & often there would be a fight, every morning as soon as reveille went we would all turn out or be pulled out one or the other, & fold up our blankets inside the hammock, & they would then be stowed inside a big bin at each end of the deck till about 8 oclock, when the orderly's would put them on each mans hook ready to be slung when you came down to turn in, at night time all our portholes were covered, & we were only allowed a certainly amount of light, for at that time the Emden" was knocking about & we had to be careful. We had a good trip across the Great Australian Bight we saw any amount of shark's between Victoria & West Australia
We reached Albany after a trip of 7 days, we anchored a fair distance from the pier, from a distance Albany does not look very big, the country round about it appear's to be fairly hilly, & the hills seem to be covered with a scrubby growth something like verbena, & tea-tree we laid in the harbour for a few days, & then we moved up to the pier to take water in, at the entrance to the harbour a strict watch was kept by our cruisers, & a big Japanese boat, they were constantly on the move, backwards & forward's. We had a march through Albany & the whole town turned out to see us, we marched through it, & stretched our legs, that night a lot of our chaps, borrowed the fireman's
clothes, & went ashore, not a bad little ruse was it, they caught some of them coming home in the early hours of the morning, drunk of course. On the morning of the 31st we were roused by the bugles sounding the fire alarm about 3.30. we all hopped our of our hammock's & slipped up on deck & fell in quite orderly, all were cool, & calm, though most of us were in our shirts great volumes of smoke were issuing from one of the hatches, & soon the water was pouring into it from half a dozen hoses.
The sailors got the best of it in about an hour, & we were all dismissed, & went back to our hammock's, it was not a very nice beginning was it.
we were laying alongside the pier when this happened, at the other side the "Benalla" was taking in water you should have seen her cast loose & back out, she lost no time about it. Every morning the bugle would sound "attention", & everyone would spring to it, while the band played "God Save the King", when the other boats saw us do this, they wondered what we were up to, but when they found out, what we were doing it for, I believe they all followed our example this is what we were told, & I believe its true.
While we were, at Albany the New Zealand ships came in, & very smart they looked, for they were all painted a grey colour, like the warships, we now had such a fleet in the harbour
[1st November 1914]
as Albany never saw before, the harbour seemed to be just a mass of big ships. On the morning of the 1st of November, we lifted our anchors & the great fleet set sail, the Australian ships led the way & the N.Z.'s brought up the rear, we were escorted by 4 warships at this point, the big Japanese cruiser was in front the "Melbourne" on the right flank & "Sydney" was watching the other side, while the Minotaur" a Brittish cruiser from the China squadron brought up the rear, our position in the line was well forward, & it was a fine sight to look back on the ships, as they ploughed their way through the water, all the transports were in three lines & we were in the middle line, about
4th boat from the front, all that day we watched the Australian coast fading away, till darkness shut it out, & when we got up in the morning we were out of sight of land, & nothing but the calm blue sea all round us like a sheet of shimmering glass, & at last we felt we were fairly on the way to England, for when we sailed we were under the impression that we were bound for the Old Country, & great was our disappointment of learning later that we were going to Egypt to complete our training. We had a very quiet little run till we reached the Line", though of course we had plenty of fun, & concerts, & debates every night, while we had tugs of war, gloves foils & etc.
[9th November 1914]
We saw plenty of flying fish on this run, they get well out of the water & look very pretty of an early morning with the sun shining on them as they dart through the air.
Early on the morning of the 9th of November we were all surprised to see the "Sydney" swing out from her line & come racing over toward us she looked fine as she tore through the water, the white foam flying from her sharp cut bows, & the black smoke pouring from her funnels, we guessed something was up, & so we watched till she disappeared from sight, we heard nothing more till nearly 10 oclock, I was down below at the time, & all of a sudden I heard a terrible noise on deck, I hopped up & there was a notice pinned on
the wall to the effect that the Sydney had destroyed the Emden", the boys were delighted, seeing as how it was our boat that done the trick, & got in before the Japanese, & our China Squadron who had been thirsting for her blood, ever since war broke out. Shortly after this came another wireless saying that she was after a collier, & when she had finished with her, she would return & transfer her wounded & prisoner's to the "Omrah" which was our Headquarters ship. We never saw the Sydney" no more till she reached Colombo, for she went on to there after the scrap, I guess she lifted a good bit of trouble off the ships captains, for there was always the danger of the Emden" getting in unawares at night, after
this we were allowed lights at night. Our next bit of excitement was crossing the Line, we had a great big canvas bath fitted, & filled with salt water, & some of the officers were dressed in all sorts of costumes, we had a father Neptune, (Capt Swanell) he was killed on the first day at Anzac at the head of his men in the charge) & then special constables, who had been duly initiated, that is ducked, were told off by Father Neptune & his Court to arrest all & sundry, they came across, these constables grabbed hold of anyone they could lay their hands on, it was no good of them protesting in they had to go, the more you struggled the worse it was for you, when they got them to the tank they shot them in clothes & all on
& when you came up some of Neptunes slaves shoved you under again with a pole until you were nearly drowned & when you went to get out, they were there to help you with hands all over grease & tar, which they took good care they rubbed all over you, besides scrubbing your teeth with grit, & grease, & trying to shave you with a piece of hoop-iron. Oh we had some fun I can tell you once you had been through Neptunes hand's you were free to go & help the others drag them in, & sometimes we had to storm a position taken up by some of the chaps who objected to being ducked, under a perfect deluge of water, from buckets, dishes, hoses & etc, water & wet towels were the only weapons that were legal
& the deck was a mass of flying towels if you showed your head round the corner you would be met by a volley of them & forced to retreat unless you had a strong following to back you up, it rained that day, but being in the tropics, we were almost sweating in spite of the water flying about, the majority had nothing but their trousers on, the game got a bit too hot for the captain so about 4 oclock he stopped it.
The heat was very intense in the tropics, the pitch used to be nearly melting in the daytime, at night everyone slept on deck, I only slept down below till we reached Albany after that I used to sling my hammock under one of our guns, & I can tell you I enjoyed the trip.
We had a daily newspaper printed on our boat called the "Kangaroo" it used to cause a bit of fun.
Sailing across the Indian ocean the weather was lovely, scarce a ripple on the water, the water here seems very full of phosphourus, & looking over at night time it used to look lovely, I have watched the water churning away from our sides for hours at a stretch, there are also plenty of flying fish to be seen of an early morning.
Colombo, our next port of call was reached on the 15th we slipped our anchor a fair way out, the town looks very pretty from a distance snuggled away among palm trees this was our first sight of the East & very good it looked, we could plainly see a mosque in the distance
of course everyone was anxious to get ashore, but we had no luck, though the New Zealanders went for a march there but they wanted it for they did not get ashore in Albany, though of course a lot of our Battalions didn't either. They have a fine big breakwater at Colombo, we picked up a 5 funnelled Russian cruiser here the "Askold" the one the Emden" was supposed to have sunk, we got a few cocoanuts & bananas here but they were to dear, so we did not get many of them. We left Colombo the next day & early on the morning of the 19th right close to us on the port side there was a collision, the "Shropshire" ran into the "Ascanius" but luckily no damage of any importance was done though a few chaps were
knocked overboard, but I think they were rescued by a warship, which was pretty close at the time.
7 days were occupied in the run from Colombo to Aden, approaching Aden from the sea, we sailed fairly close under some bare & rocky cliffs, the water here looks very deep & is alive with shark's, they have a powerful wireless station here perched away up on a tall & rocky peak that must be a couple of thousand feet high, the town itself looks a very miserable affair, as indeed it is for it is one of the hottest places on earth nothing but sand & rock to be seen here, looking back as the fleet came swing in was a very fine sight, & one that I shall remember for some time.
There was a lot of gambling going on as we came across, banker crown & anchor, & pontoon were the most popular, they tried to put a stop to it, but it wasn't much good for it went on just the same.
Leaving Aden on the 26th we steered a course for Port Suez, which we reached after a passage of 5 days some of it through the Red sea. going through here they called for volunteers to help the firemen. myself & about 40 others were selected on account of being short & strong, so down we went, & by Heaven's it was hot we worked 4 hours a shift most of the time wheeling coal to the boilers & taking the clinker away, we stuck 2 day's at this, & then the job was finished I was not sorry
either I can tell you, I had heat blisters all over my body & arm's. This was our general routine on board reveille at 6 A M. physical drill 6.30. to 7. breakfast 7.30. drill 9. to 11. dinner 12 oclock. lecture 2.30 till 4 oclock. tea at 5, & the rest of the day for yourself. On the way across we had 2 mails delivered to us, & we used to get news by wireless nearly every day, coming through the Red Sea was pretty warm, but I think I have felt hotter day's. As you approach Port Suez, the sea gradually narrows until at last you would think you were going to rush the beach, for you can't see the canal, the thing that is most prominent here is some enormorous tanks, stocking petroleum I think, it was here that we were first
introduced to the piastres, & the Gyppos, this was the shop for oranges we fairly lived on them while laying here waiting our turn to go through the Canal, we were fruit hungry after being so long without it, we also bought a lot of Turkish delight the real stuff not like some of that what you get in Australia.
While we were waiting, here a big fleet of Indian transports came in & very fine they looked with the setting sun behind them.
On the 2nd we went through the canal, & just at the entrance a fine French battleship was laying as we passed her the bugles sounded "attention", & every man sprang to it while our band played the "Marseillese" didn't the Frenchmen come tumbling
up on the deck when they heard that tune, & they cheered us, & we returned the compliment, by 4 oclock that afternoon we had fairly entered the Canal, you could throw a stone from the deck, to either sides, it seemed very funny such a small stream of water carrying enormous boats & the desert on either sides stretching for hundreds of miles, & nothing but sand, sand, wherever you looked, with the exception of a few small clumps of date palms scattered here & there we steamed about 6 miles an hour through the canal & every here & there we would pass some enormous French dredger, we went through of a bright moonlight night, & I & a few others stopped up most of the night for it was a most beautiful scene at night
Most of the way along, the banks of the Canal there were British & Indian troop's entrenched ready for the Turkish attack. they were dug in on the Arabian side. We reached Port Said just as day was breaking, but early as the hour was, the native population was astir Port Said (one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world) seemed alive with shipping, most of it I suppose was waiting for their turn to enter the Canal, half the population of this town must surely live in little boats for there were thousands of them there, & they swarmed all round our boats, selling all sorts of things, I saw my first hydroplane here she flew all over the harbour & town, & settled on the water as easily as a duck.
Leaving Port Said on the 5th we passed
the fine statue of De Lesseps the great French engineer, who was responsible for the Suez Canal it stands at the Western entrance, & his is looking out over the sea, we were now in the Mediterranean & it was fairly rough, we passed several little torpedo boats, & they were being tossed about like corks.
The next morning found us skirting the Egyptian coast & with Alexandria in sight, they have an immense breakwater here which runs far out into the sea Alexandria looks to lie almost level with the sea, for unlike all the other ports we had called at, there was no rising ground here, & the breakwater is necessary to protect the shipping in the harbour from the rough gales & heavy storms, that yearly sweep the Mediterrean with such disastrous effects
Alexandria has a population of about 600,000 nearly all Egyptians of course but there are large numbers of French Italian Greek, & Russian, people there. There were a fine lot of captured German ships all tied up to the wharfs, that must make the German people mad to see that, a sure sign of Britains power on the water, the day we arrived the Sultan of Egypt cleared out to Turkey. We buried our first patient here we were lucky, some of the boats had as many as half a dozen deaths during the voyage, we laid in the harbour 3 day's before we disembarked, we were not sorry to get off the ship either for we had been 51 days on the water.
We left Alexandria for Cairo on the 9th we were marched straight into the train & away we went, the trip
to Cairo was most interesting we followed the Nile for a fair distance, & as far as the eye could reach on either side of the line, was nothing but lovely green fields & groves of palm trees, with canals running everywhere, we crossed 2 or 3 very fine bridges between Alexandria & Cairo, they have peculiar sorts of houses, built of mud, & the fowls roost on top, & from what I could see the camels & buffaloes, & people all doss in together, they are very dirty in their habits, there are miles upon miles of gum tress planted along the line & they look well, even though they are in a foreign land.
We arrived in Cairo about midnight & on getting off the train, we were served with cocoa, cheese & a roll, it was very acceptable I can tell you
After this was finished we were all "fallen in" & marched down to the trams where they were waiting for us, some of the boys done a get & never turned up for about 7 day's, in a few minutes we were in, & off, down a long street lined on either sides by trees on our way out we crossed one of the finest bridges in the world, the Nile where this bridge spans it, is about ¼ of a mile wide, & the bridge carries 2 lines of tram's, a fine big asphalt road & 2 footpaths, she looks a very strong bridge, it was built by French engineers, in a distance of about 1 mile there are no less than 3 of these enormous bridges, the traffic is that heavy that they were forced to build them so as to be able to cope with the work
They are all built so as they can be opened to let the big Nile barges through, one of them is opened by electricity & the others the steam tugs pull open, after crossing the big bridge, we went about another ½ mile, & we came to a branch of the Nile, with another nice little bridge over it, by this time we were approaching Giza, which is about halfway between Cairo & the Pyramids, & every one was beginning to crane their necks to get a view of the Pyramids, at last we spotted them, & very fine they looked in the moonlight with a light fog hanging round them, the Nile was in flood at this time, & all the flats were under water, which made the country look like a big lake, I thought it was at the time, but
but I found out different later on we arrived at Mena about 1.30. A.M. & had to march about half a mile to our Battalion's piece of the camp there were only a few tents up when we reached there, dog tired, & so we threw ourselves down on the sand we had no blankets, or nothing to sleep in, but our overcoats & oil sheets & if ever I nearly perished well it was that night, we got a shock I can tell you, we all thought Egypt would be a hot & warm place at night but we were never so sucked in, in our lives, I do believe that once or twice during that never to be forgotten night, that I was frozen absolutely stiff, Wagga & I slept alongside one another, & he used to swear that he was as stiff as a
poker more than once, & everyone had the same experience one poor devil died through it & that was our sergeant, Meadmore, he went to hospital next day, & died with pneumonia about at week later.
We rose about 5 oclock for sleep was impossible, & the first thing we made for were the Pyramids, early as we were the Arabs were waiting for us, & fool like we engaged one to show us the sights, we first of all had to pay him 2/- each, for which sum he was to show us round the Pyramids but when we wanted to climb them he wanted another 1/-. & we poor fools gave it to him, having climbed them, on an empty stomach, too we sat down to have a look at the lovely view that lay at our feet
& it was worth the trouble we took in climbing them right at our feet lay our camp, & the green fields stretched right away up to Cairo & away beyond, the Nile was like a silver ribbon threading its way past villages & palm groves till it disappeared in the distance miles & miles away, the sun was just rising at the time, & as it threw its beams upon Cairo, the tall spires & minarets glinted like gold & silver, & all sorts of colours seemed to spring from the mosques, & the citadel as the sun rose higher & higher, while the submerged flats at our feet looked like a lake of molten silver with the lovely avenue of trees mirrored in it so faithfully, turning round you face the Libyan
desert, & I can tell you from the top of these pyramids, you get a lovely view, this morning there happened to be a fairly heavy fog hanging over the desert, & it was a splendid sight to see the sun breaking through the clouds of mist, throwing all sorts of pretty colour on it it seems very funny, you might say right at your feet lay some of the richest ground on the face of this earth, & then if you turn round, you can say there lies some of the worst on earth, for you are looking on a desert that stretches, as the Arabs say, for the distance of a 1000 days march, & is absolutely waterless Wagga & I sat for a good 10 minutes & looked on this beautiful scene & then I became aware of someone
who was offering me a tiny cup of coffee, about as big as a dolls cup that is no exaggeration, for they are no bigger, I took it & tasted it it was as black & as strong as coffee is ever likely to be, I did not know what to make of it, but I drank it thinking it was chucked in by our guide, who had bought it for us, off the Arab who was boiling it on top of the pyramid, after carving our name like everyone else on the top we started to descend, when the Arab running the coffee stall demanded 4 piastres for the coffee, there was a row straight way, & we ended up fool like in giving the crafty old dog 2 piastres, to do this we had to change a 20 piastre piece, & he rooked us for 8 piastres, we did not
know the value of the money to well at that time, & they took every advantage of us when we reached the bottom of the pyramids, our guide gave us 2 little scarabs for nothing as we thought, but we found out different later on, we then went down to the Sphinx, & we had to run the gauntlet of fortune-tellers, curio sellers who ask you easily 10 times the value of what they are trying to take you down with, they had the usual load of ancient coins 2000 years old as they tell you, all made in Birmingham (England) for which they will sell for a trifle of 10 or 20 piastres, according to how big a fool you look, Wagga & I never came at the coins, though we had our fortunes told in the sand
with the usual promise's of rich girls who were only waiting for your return, so as you could marry them & be happy for the rest of your life, besides these two classe's of swindlers there were scores of orange & pea nut sellers, all on the same game, droves of beggars, demanding backsheesh of course we like asses threw a few piastres towards them, & from then on were followed by a crowd of dirty stinking Arabs, & you could not shake them off, the next pest was the man with the camels & donkeys, who for a ride of about 200 yards asked the modest sum of 7 piastres, however we got through this mob & had a look at the Sphinx, it is a truly wonderful piece of sculpture, it has the face
of a man, I should call it, the breasts of a woman, & the body of a lion laying down with its feet in front, it is a most enomorous thing & it has a piece knocked off its nose where Napoleon had a shot at it with a field gun. We next wanted our guide to take us into the pyramids to see the old tombs but he wanted 2/- more from each of us, for that, we had a job to keep our hands off him, so we told him to go to Hell, he then demanded 5 piastres each for these little scarabs he had given us previously, he made a mistake this time, for we threatened him with a thousand deaths if he did not do a get as fast as ever he could, he started to argue & shout but I made a jump towards him
& he ducked for his life it was just as well for him for had we laid hands on him, he would have got something more than he bargained for.
The pyramids Cheops & Chephren stand on 13 acres of land, & are 482 ft high standing on the top, you would think anyone would be able to throw a stone with ease to the bottom, but I'll bet you can't, I have tried it often & can get no where near it, during my 4 months stay at Mena I climbed those pyramids dozens of times.
They are well worth a visit inside, first of all you go down a pretty steep incline at the bottom you turn to your right & climb a few enomorous rocks, once up these, you are on to a slippery sort of a passage with an incline of about 45 deg. leading upwards
towards the Kings chamber, of course you have a lighted candle with you you have to take your boots off to climb these slippery steps, the Kings chamber is about 150 ft off the ground & is a wonderful piece of work the size of the rocks in there is astonishing & they are cut as true as I think it is possible for stone to be cut, the chamber is built the shape of a room with a beautiful hip
roff roof, the old Kings tomb is still in there but his body has gone long long ago, they reckon the Persians got it.
Young Duke & I climbed "Chephren" one day, it is very dangerous going up this one, as you have to cross the face of it several times & the last lap is as you can see from photo's up a face as smooth as glass, only here & there
the smooth face has been broken by the weather, once on top, & you feel inclined for a spell, I can tell you, some one took an Australian flag up with them, & it fluttered from the top for months, this pyramid was, placed out of bounds later on for there were too many accidents on it, & quite a number was killed. The other pyramid Cheops" is a fairly easy climb.
After we had been at Mena a little while, we began to settle down to our drill, we were well supplied with blankets, 4 per man & big double ones at that Wagga & I slept together outside all the while, & it was tip-top for the sand was soft & clean it did not have a particle of earth in it, & it was impossible to get dirty
in it. On the - of December we were kept in camp, for that was the date of the British Annexation of Egypt Xmas Day we spent in camp we had our mess huts built then, & we had our dinner in them we decorated them with all sorts of things & had a good dinner After Xmas our training commenced in earnest, & for the next 2 months this was our drill reveille at 6. A.M. breakfast 7. fall in 7.30. march about 4 miles at a good rattling pace across the burning sand in which at every step, you sank to your ankles, after we had reached our drill ground, we had a spell of about 10 minutes, & then we would drill constantly till 12 oclock & then we would have our lunch which consisted of a dry little roll of bread
& a small tin of sardines between 2 men, how would you like a dinner like that" we had a little piece of poetry made up which all the Batts used to sing on the march it ran like this.
"The brigadeir gets turkey
The Colonel he gets duck
The officers get chicken
and think themselves in luck
the Sergeants get their belly full
we watched them through the wall
But all the poor old privates get's
Is one dry roll.
We used to bring all sorts of things in the last line, & some of them could scarce be repeated, this used to make the officers wild, but they never said anything.
At 1 oclock we would start work
again, & work constantly up till 4 oclock we would then march back to our parade ground, put on our packs form up, & then skirmish 3 out of the 4 miles home again, you can guess what kind of a state we would arrive in camp, our clothes would be absolutely wet with sweat, & the boots in spite of the heat would be wet with the sweat that had ran down you legs, your tongue would be hanging out, & most of the chaps in a state of exhaustion, just before the camp was reached our band would meet us, & play us into camp that would liven us up a bit you have no idea how music will make tired men straighten up & step out, there is one piece in particular, that I believe if men
were staggering, & could scarcely crawl along, would straighten them up the instant it was struck up, & that piece was the "Marseillese" it has a fiery, joyous, swing to it & I don't wonder at the French being such demons to fight when inspired by this piece of music.
As soon as we reached the camp we would have a good square meal waiting for us, & after that was over would come the, washing, bathing, shower's & etc. & a change into dry & clean clothes, at 7.30 there would be night operations that would last till 10 or 11 oclock at times, we often worked & drilled 16 hours of the 24. this is no lie I can assure, it was only too true, how it culled the weak ones
out, many a big strong looking man cracked up like a piece of dry wood. After a month of this sort of work, our day drill was shortened, for we were as near perfection as they could get us with the rifle, & our night work was extended, till toward the last we done all our drill at night time, such as taking up positions, digging trenches, attacking, scouting, silent marches, bayonet attacks, rapid movements & all the finer points of the game, the only work we done in the day was at the ranges & that was more of a pleasure than anything else, we used to have competitive firing between the company's, & platoons, & I am proud to say that my platoon No 11, won the % every time with the exception of twice, ours was a splendid platoon
you should have seen us on the rapid fire at the disappearing target, our method of musketry firing was like this each man in a platoon was given 30 rounds, & each platoon in their turn had to advance under a supposed enemy fire in extended order, when they reached the top of the ridge which marked where we had stop, the officer in charge blew his whistle & down every one went like one man, & loaded his rifle as quick as he could, in a few sec's the enemy appeared first at 200 yards, he was represented here by small steel plates about 12 in. square & each section of the platoon had to direct their fire, on to their portion of the target, we would have about 10 sec. allowed on these plates, & I can tell you there would not be
many left standing in that time, while we were tearing into these plates another target would appear some where else perhaps 600, or 400 yards away we would have to alter our sights, as quick as we could & tear into this new one, you would just get nicely going when it would disappear, & another one would spring up perhaps 900 yards off & the fire would have to be directed on to that & so on until your allotted time was up when the scores would be signalled back to you, this was what they called fire control, our highest % was 39 that meant that out of every hundred rounds issued to the platoon 39 of them represented hits, our officer was proud of his platoon, & so we were of him for he was a fine fellow, & was badly hit in 3 places on the first day
There used to be a fair bit of wagering over these scores between the officers & men but towards the last they barred us, the Colonel complimented us on our shooting more than once, we would have been even better if Len had been with us then.
After all this came our Brigade & Divisional training which was the easiest of all though we had some long & trying marches some of them nearly 20 miles with full equipment & pack up, but we were hard as nails by this time, we finished our Brigade training at Sakahara, where we had a march of 15 miles, a short spell, then attacked a hill about 2 miles in front of us, that over we retired on to our original position, & for the rest of the night dug trenches in hard
rock, all this time we were without food or water, that was a test if you like but the boys done it easily.
The next day we done nothing, but lay in the sun, or else go bathing, that night however we marched from 8. oclock till daybreak, when the whole Brigade 4000 men attacked a hill with the bayonet, I marched many a mile that night sound asleep, my legs moved mechanically, for I don't remember much of the march, & there were a good few more who done the same, that over we marched back miles & miles over the sand back to our camp, & everyone threw themselves down & went to sleep through sheer exhaustion, it was a very severe test, & the next day the Brigadeir formed the whole Brigade up & in a speech told
us that our training was over & that he was proud to be in command of such a Brigade, & that we were fit for war, how pleased we all were for we used to reckon that we would never see the front.
The next day we done nothing so another chap & myself set out to have a look at the old Step pyramid & the temples & tombs of Ti, we reached them after a walk of about 2 hours, & we had a look at the old tombs first the sides of the wall are covered with beautiful coloured plaster work depicting the lives of the people of those far off days a trifle of 4000 years or so, it appears that this Ti who had all these drawings done was a great Sportsman & he shows in these temples where he
was buried, all the different sports they used to follow, such as deer-hunting spearing & netting hippopotamus, hunting crocodiles, catching & netting fish, & they show the work on the farm of those days, the same old plough is still to be seen in use to-day, & pretty much the same methods are followed donkey's, cats, birds & etc are shown, but the best thing I reckon there is the sacrifice of the sacred Bulls, showing the men killing the beast & then cutting it up we spent best part of the day here, & then towards evening we started for our camp, we went down towards some swamps, & passed hundreds of wild duck, it made me long for a shotgun. The next day we marched back to Mena, & everyone was very glad to get his pack off, & have a spell
When first we went to Mena, there was hardly a building to be seen but before very long, the place was alive with canteens, shops restaurants, picture shows shooting galleries & all sorts of things.
One evening the reservoir burst, & flooded the artillery nearly out.
We used to have plenty of music, for every Battalion had its band, & they used to take their turn, at turning out for reveille, as soon as reveille had blown, a band from each Brigade would march up the road a certain distance & back again, playing all the while, & there were some very fine bands there.
When the 4th Brigade arrived here Len came out & saw me I was very pleased to see him, & later on
I got him transferred from the 13th Battalion to the 1st. he arrived the night before we left for the Dardanelles just got there in time.
On the 8th February the 7th & 8th Batt. were sent from Mena to the Suez Canal but they arrived a day to late, for the scrap was over when they got there. While in Cairo I had a look at a few of their mosques, they are very fine especially the Blue mosque & the one at the Citadel (Mohamed Ali) the Blue mosque claims to have the original Koran, & they reckon it is 900 years old. I had a look at it the cover is worked beautifully, as all Koran's are, they also have silver candlesticks as tall & taller than I am, & beautiful tables all all worked in ivory & gold
the reason why it is called the Blue mosque is because of the beautiful dome of that colour. Just close to here is another very fine mosque & you can see where Napoleon shot at it with cannon balls, one of these balls is still sticking in the stone wall. The finest mosque of all is Mohamed Ali, & it is a most beautiful building inside, before you enter any of the Moslem places of worship, a Christian dog has to put on a big pair of slippers,
oreor else he would pollute the sacred place just outside the mosque in a flagged courtyard is a fountain, where all the Moslems wash themselves before going in to pray, as you enter the mosque the first thing that will strike you is the size of the floor space, & the height of the building from the floor
to the top of the dome, the floor is covered with a beautiful dark red carpet it is so thick that you can't hear any one walking on it, & suspended from the dome is the largest chandelier that ever I am likely to see, there are thousands of glass bulbs, & lamps of all colours & shades on it, the chandelier is suspended from the roof by a silver chain, every little thing inside this building is of the best, & all magnificently worked, gold silver & ivory is used as if it was to be picked up like stones, there are 2 or 3 splendid tombs in here of the Sultans relations they are inscribed all over with gold writing, & the framework is of beautiful mahogany & ebony, but I think the roof & domes are the prettiest, & have to be seen to be appreciated.
When we first came to Cairo, we used to be almost mobbed by the swarms of bootblacks, & stick sellers, silk vendors & a hundred & one other dirty sweeps if you stopped to look in a window out would come some one, & start to tell you all about it & try to get you to buy, this sort of thing had rather the opposite effect on us, for many a time I have felt inclined to buy something but soon as they started that game off I would go, & I think that was the same with all of us, we had never been used to that sort of thing in Australia, & were not going to stand it here, when you sat down in a restaurant, one of these boot-blacks would pounce on you & before you knew where you were he would be rubbing away for dear life, while you were
trying to get rid of him, you would gave 2 or 3 beggars round you wanting bucksheesh, & you would have your work cut out to shake them off, if you went into a shop to buy anything they would ask you about 10 times the value of the article, we soon jerried to all these little games, & found out the shops that had the fixed prices, & you did not have to argue for an hour with them about the change, "oh how they rooked us for a while"
There are some very fine buildings in Cairo, & some bonzer streets, & there are also some of the worst dens on earth there, after what I have seen in Cairo with my own eyes, I will believe anything is capable of happening there. No doubt you heard all about Capt Beans letter about the Australian troops in
Cairo, what did he expect in a city where you can buy ladies who vary in price from 2 piastres to 100, & Cairo fairly swarms with them, though I can truthfully say that they had no attraction for me, I wouldn't like to take a sister or friend of mine down even the best streets in Cairo when first we came here, though it is right as rain now, but if anyone wants their eyes opened let them go into one of the "can-can" dens down Wazza Street, & if that don't satisfy them well I don't know what else they want, and the way they used to dilute their spirits seems incredible, but its true, they use their own water, to colour it, that's a well known fact, though they have pretty well put a stop to it now, can you wonder at some of our fellows
We also had some terrible dust storms we were wearing the shorts at the time these storms struck us, & the flying pieces of gravel used to cut like pieces of glass, they are one of the miserable things that ever I had had to face Not so long before we left Mena Sir George Reid & Ian Hamilton reviewed us, it was a fine turn out the whole Division was there, & marched past General Sir Ian Hamilton Just before we left for the Dardanelles we received our 1st & 2nd reinforcements & we also sent a big bunch of undesirables & venereals back to Australia. About the middle of March rumours began to get around that we were going any day, & everyone was getting anxious to be in it.
The night before we left Mena there
was a big row in the Wazza, & our chaps & New Zealanders pulled & burnt half of it down, pianos chairs tables, women, & all went out the window, as soon as they hit the ground, on the fire they went, it would have been a good thing if they had burnt every bit of it to the ground there was a great commotion in Cairo that night (Good Friday) all the lights were cut off, & the military called out to quell it, there were a few men killed that night, it was a pity it happened in one way, for the 1st Div. up till then had a capital name, & we were leaving next day but that's what made the boy's have a cut at it I suppose, as so many of them had been mobbed & robbed, while they were drugged
in that part of the town, the streets down there are about 6 ft wide, & the people, throw all their dirty water & worse than that is some of the stuff that is dumped in those filthy streets the wonder of it to me is how on earth people can live there at all, but of course they die off like flies in the summer time.
They have a very fine Zoological Garden here, the giraffes are especially fine, some of them are nearly 20 feet high, they also have a fine lot of lions (13), bears, hippotamus, rhinoserous, wolves, monkeys, zebra's deer, leopards crocodiles, alligators, & a thousand other animals, while the grounds just swarm with birds, & ducks of all sorts they have great big ponds
for the wet footed birds & they come & go as they like, we gave them a kangaroo & wallaby when we left Egypt.
And now I come to the day we were told to pack up, for we were off to war, every one was delighted, & worked with a will the night we left Mena bonfires were burning, & concerts were in full swing all over the place, we marched out from Mena 12 oclock on the 4th of April & marched to Cairo a distance of 10 miles, the boys sang all the way down, & as we were going through streets of Cairo, early in the morning people waved & cheered us as we went through especially the French residents I'll bet they heard us coming a mile off & guessed what was the matter they greeted us with all sorts of cries & some of them followed us as far as they
were allowed, by 8 oclock we were all on our way to Alexandria, & I'll bet this much that a finer body of troops never left
Ale Cairo than the old 1st Div. every man was as hard as nails & trained to the hour I was one of the smallest men in our Battalion, that will give you an idea of what they were like, & every man was cocksure of himself, of being able to beat any man be he Turk or German, & frightened of nothing with legs on it, & that was the sort of spirit with which we landed. We slept most of the way between Cairo & Alexandria, for we were tired & sleepy, we arrived at Alexandria just before dinner, & our ship was waiting of us, she was the Headquarters boat & had all
the staff on her, "Minnewaska" was her name, she was a fine ship of about 16 000 tons, & they were busy loading horses, motors, guns, ammunition & etc on her.
We had a rotten place to sleep on her terribly crowded, all the boats were the same, Len & I slept on deck every night, it was beautiful on top, though it rained fairly heavy at times, the food was not of the best either, but no one growled, for this was what we volunteered for & so we put up with it, as best we could. All that day & the next we were busy loading stores & things they even put some motor cars aboard. On the 7th, the staff came aboard it consisted of Generals Bridges Walker, Birdwood Godley Car-
[9th April 1915]
ruthers, & scores of officer's, so our boat was rather an important one. We left Alexandria for the great adventure on the 9th April, & as we sailed past the American cruiser "Tennesse", they came & had a look at us, but never a cheer beyond one or two, did they raise, I suppose most of them were Germans on board & would liked to have opened fire on us, instead, all the other boats in the harbour gave us a good send off, & thus we sailed from Alexandria we had a bonzer trip to Lemnos" the water of the Mediterranean is a different colour to any that I have ever seen before, it is almost a bright blue, & looks lovely as the ship churns her way through throwing the snow white foam
from her bows, we arrived at Lemnos" a Greek island that was taken over by the British along with "Imbros" at the outbreak of the war, the entrance to Mudros harbour was netted, so a destroyer came out & showed us the way in. A lot of us thought we had arrived at the Dardanelles" when we were sailing into the harbour, when we got round the last headland we could see the harbour was a mass of ships, & warships of Great Britain France & Russia were there, including big Lizzie" what a monster she looked with her enormous guns pointed straight in front of her, we anchored there & soon the traders were all around us, the next day we all
were taken out in big rowing boats that would hold a platoon, of course we had no sooner hit the water than we were racing one another for all we were worth, we rowed up round the warships & passed the "Queen" "Triumph' Lord Nelson "Queen Elizabeth" & a few French battleships, besides destroyers, torpedo boats, & submarines both French & British, we went for these rows every day nearly, they were getting us used to what we had to do when we landed.
We were also taken on Lemnos for a march several times, it was here that we first came in contact with the French, & this much I must say about them, that finer & more good hearted chaps I never met they would do anything for us
& we got on well with them, & the more I have seen of the French the better I like them, they are very popular right through with the Australian's & N. Zealander's.
Lemnos is a one horsed place it is very mountainous, & steep it has scarce a tree on the whole island though when we were first there the grass & clover were lovely & there were plenty of wild flower's growing everywhere we enjoyed the little visits there then, there are little villages scattered all over it, they are all built of stone, for this is a place where they say that wood is worth a 1d a lb., the people are practically all Greek's, & they are a 100 years behind the times, they do all their own spinning from the raw wool
& make their own clothes from it. There are some very pretty girls there they are snow white, & very shy. They have the same old methods of farming here as they have in Egypt the same old piece of wood with an iron toe for the plough, lots of the men dress in a sort of skin clothes cut from goats & sheep, & nearly all wear skin shoes, they look tricks I can tell you, they grow a lot of grapes & figs on these islands, when we lobbed there the 3rd Brigade had been there a month, & were heartily sick of the place we were laying off Lemnos" for 13 days & the day before the fleet sailed we were all drawn up & General Birdwood spoke to us, among other things he warned us to be careful of our water food & ammunition, & told us that
the eyes of the whole world would be on us, to see how we fought.
They must have made cocksure of breaking right through, for they told us that there would be no haggling in the villages we were to pass through as all the prices would be fixed we were paid on the 22nd with notes which had Turkish writing on them. The fleet set picked up their anchors & slowly steamed out of the harbour & what a mass of ships there was as we slowly steamed out of Lemnos, we could hear some of the warships belting away at the forts as we went along, we got a certain distance out & anchored for the night, we were then given each man 300 rounds of ammunition, & his rations enough for 3 day's, that night everyone
was as happy as they could possibly be, we had mandolins guitars banjos & etc going for all they were worth nobody thought of what was going to happen on the morrow, & so we went to bed about 10 oclock, with everything ready for an instant move. About 4 oclock Reveille sounded & upon we all jumped & got dressed there was a young moon if I remember rightly, we were all served with a big junk of steak & bread for breakfast, & while we were munching this we heard a tremendous roar, up we all rushed, to get a look at what was going on, one of our ships had opened fire on "Gaba Tepe" soon the whole fleet of warships were belting away for all they were worth, the scene was a magnificent one, the
whole of the Turkish position for the length of about half a mile seemed to be a mass of flying sparks, from the deluge of shells that were being poured on to them, we watched this scene for about 10 minutes, & the order came for every man to get ready to move off, so we harnessed ourselves up, & waited patiently, the Turks were now raining shells upon our ships, or trying to, for I never saw any hit, but one or two whistled past very close to us, about 5 or 5.30 we heard a crackle of rifle fire & we knew then that the 3rd Brig. had landed, we then got the order to fill the boats & down we filed on to a destroyer (the Ribble) was her name, she had a few wounded & dead men on her, they were the first
we had ever seen, they made no difference to us, & now let me say right here, for it is true as true can be, those of our chaps who had cards, fetched them out & started playing, that was one of the first things that struck the sailors, it needed nerve I can tell you for now it was daylight & the water was just a mass of bursting shrapnel, & they had the range to a nicety, the destroyer rushed us over as fast & as far as she could & then the sailors met us with rowing boats we quickly filled these & off we went with shells bursting all around us, we were lucky in our boat for only one man was hit it seemed miraculous how we dodged the shells I'll swear one did not miss us by more than a foot, & another one
burst all over us & only one man was hit, though the boat stopped about a dozen shrap's, everyone was as cool as could be, & those that could were pulling on the oars I remember Len was pulling on one however we reached the beach at last & we leaped out quick & lively, I must have jumped into a deep place for I went in up to my arm-pits & had to struggle ashore with about 150 lb on my back, & rifle held high over my head to deep it from getting wet.
some of our Battn's boats were not so lucky as we were, for one or two of them got smashed right up & everyone was drowned they would sink like a stone with such a weight on them after we got ashore Lieut Payne got us together & we started up for the firing
line. I should think it was about 6 oclock then for the sun was just rising. No 12. platoon had no sooner started than a shell lobbed right into them, killing 4 & wounding 9 others that was a pretty start & made a big hole in 56 men, we scrambled up the hill for about 200 yards, & then we dumped our packs, & started off at a fair pace for the firing line for everyone was anxious to get up to them we lost a few men advancing over an exposed piece of ground, it did seem funny to hear the bullets cutting into the scrub alongside of us as we went along, but no one seemed afraid, & we were laughing & joking as we went along, I don't want you to think I am skiting when you read this, for I will take my oath
on it that it is true, I know myself I never felt the slightest fear the first day or two, it was when we began to realize that bullets hurt when they hit you, that we knew what fear was. The first time that fear came to me was on the 3rd day, when we were in a perfect hell of bullets, & men were being killed all round me that I felt frightened, & I am not ashamed to say that, I had a terrible fight with myself that day, one part of me wanted to run away & leave the rest of my mates to face it, & the other part said no, we would stop & see it out at any cost rather than show the white feather, this sort of thing went on for about an hour & a bayonet charge settled the argument for me, I was fairly right after that
but I am getting ahead of myself we reached the firing line just in time to reinforce the 3rd Brigade who were being badly cut about, talk about a hail of bullets, its a marvel how any could live in such a storm of lead I was not long in getting a crack on the ankle but I was lucky for it was a spent piece of shrapnel that caught me, it stung a bit I can tell you I thought my foot was gone at least, I hobbled back a bit & got it bandaged up, & then I joined the boys again, about this time the Queen Elizabeth" let fly, & without a word of a lie the whole hills shook & trembled from the concussion of those mighty guns, I watched her fire all her 8.15 inch guns at once, & I thought the world surely had
come to an end for she was shooting over our heads, we heard the screams of those awful shells as they tore over our heads, we heard the scream of those awful shells as they tore over our heads, it put me in mind of a fast express train rushing through a deep cutting, close on their heels came the terrific report from those giant guns, & every thing trembled, I would not have cared to be within a ¼ of a mile when those monster shells burst just imagine if you can the effect of them, each one weighs just under a ton, I saw one broadside from her guns burst where these shells burst there were hundreds of Turks we could see them quite plainly, & were firing at them but after the smoke & dust had cleared away there was nothing to be seen at all, what were not killed by
by pieces of shell & shrapnel were killed by the concussion the other ships were still hammering away & the roar was continuous, we advanced a fair bit that morning, & if we only had more men we would have most certainly have broke right through to the Straits for they were fairly on the run but towards evening they came at us in thousands, & we were forced to retire some of the boys got cut off, but they refused to surrender, & died fighting to the last that night we took up our position & started to dig little shallow trenches all that night they attacked us, but we drove them back time after time, we used to get all sorts of order's, such as "cease fire" English on your right" The French are closing in on the left" You are firing on your own men"
they came from German officers who dressed in our fellows clothes, & got in our lines, they found a few of them out, at once, & they were shot immediately, but we never took no notice of these orders we could see the Turks to plain for that, the fighting never ceased that night, & as daylight broke it grew more furious than ever. I shot 3 snipers dead to-day (26th) they were picking off our poor fellows who were hobbling down to the dressing stations, the first one I killed I took his belt off to keep as a souvenir of my first kill with the rifle, the other two I laid out beautifully I felt a lot more satisfied after that for I had got even them, & that was great satisfaction to me. The battle still raged with unabating
fury, & the shrapnel fire was worse if anything to-day for during the night the Turks must have brought up a lot more guns during the night & were making things uncomfortably warm for us, the warships were trying to find the Turkish batteries, but I don't think they done much good, for the fire never slackened, & so we battled the day through, we were losing steadily but the Turks suffered just as much as we were doing, I had no water at all to-day for a bullet had penetrated my water bottle & let it all out but I was not the only one in that state, for most of the chaps had emptied their water bottles to keep the machine guns going, thats the sort of spirit they fought with, went thirsty themselves rather than let the machine
gun get to hot to work, I never saw Len since we landed, & don't know where he is, we held on somehow all that day & night against terrible odds the next day 27th was the fiercest day of all, it was one constant & fierce struggle they done their damndest to wipe us right out, but if ever men fought hard, well the Colonials did that day, they got that close to the section we were holding that we were ordered to prepare to charge, at the word "charge" we hopped out as one man & before the Turks knew what was happening we were among them, I don't remember much about it, but I can recollect driving the bayonet into the body of one fellow quite clarly, & he fell right at my feet & when I drew the bayonet out, the blood spurted
from his body, the next thing I remember is being back in the trench with about half the number of chaps there were there before, the other brave boys were laying dead outside with the officer who took us out a 13th Bat officer he was, & brave as you like. That little charge cleared them out & released the pressure for a while but they came just as thick as ever again that evening, & we could see it would mean another charge so the officer in charge collected all the spare men he could find, & we got ready again, at a given signal over the boy's went, the Turks did not wait this time, but off for their lives, I had the great luck to get another unspeakable this time, I was hot foot after him, & he tripped & fell & before
he could rise I had the bayonet right through him, & he died without a struggle, it seems an awful thing to say I know killing men like that, but I know there was no prouder man on the peninsular than my humble self that night, when they ceased their attacks & accepted defeat, I had 2 rifles smashed in my hands during the fighting on the 27th, & I also had the pleasure of knowing that I had been in the hottest part of the battle, this piece was afterwards known as the (Chessboard, on account of it being so furrowed with trenches) & Quinns Post was just here), the piece of ground opposite us was literally covered with dead bodies our own boys & Turks God knows what our losses were must have run into a few thousands
I was very much relieved when I heard that Len had got through safely, he was fairly close to where the first charge came off & I did not know it, we got a few of our guns ashore, & they were now replying to the Turks fire.
On the 27th they landed a fair number of R M. L. I's they are an English regiment, & the 1st Batt were called from the trenches for a spell, some of the R M. L. I took our place, now we thought we were right, for we all thought at that time that the English soldier was unbeatable, but we soon had that silly idea knocked out of our head's, for they were no sooner in one trench taken by the 4th Brigade than they lost it, & the 15th Batt. had to retake it & help them hold it we also had an experience with them
but I will come to that later.
When they got us all together, they called the roll & of the 1200 men who landed 3 day's ago, only 500 hundred were left, you should have seen the chaps shaking hands with one another & telling how so & so got knocked out & where another fellow was wounded, we were all as hungry as could be, & sleepy was no name for it, for we had no sleep for 3 days & nights, they gave us a ration of bacon each, which we fried, & ate with some biscuits & bully, we had a swim, in spite of the shrapnel which was flying round, on the 4th day the Triumph sailed in close to "Gaba Tepe" & knocked the fort to pieces, it was a fine sight to see the heavy stone work being knocked to dust, those naval guns hit with some force
I can tell you, on the 27th the Turks made a big effort to stop all reinforcements from reaching the shore, the way they tried to do it was to turn every available gun on the transports, & put a curtain of fire between them & the shore so as it would be impossible for men to come through it, it was just like a heavy hailstorm the line where the shrapnel was bursting, but all the good they done in spite of the big Asiatic shells & all their field guns & howitzers, was to sink one trawler & hit a couple of transports they never succeded in stopping the traffic to & from the boats. And now let me say one word in praise of the sailors, they were in my opinion the heoroes of the landing the way they rowed back & forwards with men, in spite of the terrific
fire directed on them, was marvellous for they were helpless, a few of them got carried away by the rush & enthusiasm of the boy's, & snatching up a rife went off with them, I am afraid there were not many of them saw the day through. Australia's name was made with the British sailors from that day, they will do any thing in reason for an Australian or New Zealander, & our fellows get on well with them, they are fine fellows without a doubt, they used to bring us bread, butter, tobacco & etc when they came ashore from their ships & our fellows would exchange for this shells, bullets, & all sorts of curio's. On the 28th we spelled all day, & cleaned ourselves up, the fighting had died almost down, & things were fairly quiet both sides were digging
in, & now commenced a series of little fights for the best position, to run the trenches, there were constant attack & counter-attack for nearly a month after this.
On the 29th we went back to the trenches & the first thing we had to do was to rush a trench, that the Marines" had held & lost, our company was entrusted with this piece of work, we attacked just at daybreak, & got into the trench with the loss of a few men, this is where I got a bullet which just grazed my kneecap, a very close call holding the trench was the job for it was cut off from the rest of our positions, & we had no communication sap cut through at that time, though they were hard at it the Turks got all round us & we
were expecting them to attack us with the bayonet, but we made it a bit too hot for them with the rifles & they kept off, we held it all that day without water or food, for they could not get any to us without coming over the open ground, & that was certain death, night came & we were still in it with our dead men in the trench, we had to sit on them the place was so crowded & shallow, all the time our chaps were working like Trojans to get the sap through, nothing much happened that night though they crept up close, & sniped a few of our men off, this is where we first came in contact with the bombs the Turks threw a couple that night at us but they fell short & done no damage, the next day to our great
joy the first man got through with water & ammunition, they had almost succeded in getting it through that put new life into us, & to our great relief, we were just about done for we had not closed our eyes for 2 days & nights & were nearly starving.
Our losses in the taking & holding of that little bit of trench (about 40 yds) were 15 men killed & about the same number wounded, it was afterwards known as the "Death Trap".
I had a stripe at this time, & so was in charge of a certain part of the trench things were pretty quiet for a time after this, though the shell fire was pretty hot at times,
were we were all busy consolidating our trenches & putting up parapets, & making
& part of the time their mountains were capped with snow, which would glisten & turn all colour's, with the sky as the sun went down, I used to sit & watch these sunsets for an hour at a stretch watch them turn from gold to pink, from pink to a pretty red, & from that to a lovely blue & gold tint, & it would finally go down in a deep red colour gradually fading away to a steel grey as twilight came on, this part of the world is renowned for its sunsets. Looking straight in front of us you could easily see the mountains on the Asiatic side of the Dardanelles", while on our right was Kilid Bahr, the Olive Grove" Achi Baba, & Cape Helles, on our left the Salt lake, Sari Bair, Anafarta, & Suvla Bay. There was nothing of any importance happened, beyond
the 4th Battalion & us changing places in the line, & very hard work & plenty of it deepening the trenches, & cutting saps & gun positions, for our artillery, most of this work falls on the infantry, they are easily the hardest worked unit of the whole lot, & you can say that they do all the fighting, for all other units with the exception of the engineers, are beyond the firing line, & well to the rear some of them are, especially the A. S. C. & Artillery. On the 18th May
of the first lot of Light Horse arrived, & they camped at the head of shrapnel gully that afternoon the Turks started the bombardment, & every time a Jack Johnson lobbed in our trenches they would cheer, & when one overshot the trenches, & fell in among them we would cheer, nice wasn't it & men
getting blown sky high, I'll never forget the first one, that came along. It was early in the morning, & I was looking through the periscope, watching for a chance shot, when I heard a sort of whining noise, I did not take much notice, at this & the next thing I remember was a terrific bang", & I was laying covered with sandbags, & dirt, & I can remember real well me holding the periscope up with one hand so as it would not get broken, I was quickly dragged out, none the worse for my narrow shave, the great shell had not lobbed more than 10 yards from me, it threw great chunks of earth sky high & tore a hole in the ground big enough for 10 men to be buried in, after the first one came over
I can tell you we watched for them for you can see them coming quite easily, & hear them a long way off they have a sort of screech which you can never mistake, once you hear it, all day long they bombarded us, when they first started the big shells, the Turks thought they had us at their mercy, & they got quite cheeky & exposed themselves freely, but we soon spoilt that little game, for we got to our loop-holes & waited for them with pretty good result, they mighty soon kept their heads below the parapet towards evening the bombardment grew fiercer, & it reached its highest point, about 2.30 in the morning, the scene during, this shelling was a wild but beautiful sight
The "Chess board" was a mass of bursting shells, our own & the Turk's & as they burst they threw out different coloured flashes, some golden some pink, yellow, blue, dark & light red, & all different shades from the different sorts of explosives they were using there was a perfect din, while this was going on, then all of a sudden it seemed to stop, it was quiet for about 10 minutes, then a terrific rifle fire broke out, & we could hear the Turks calling on their God as they came at us, everyman was ready for them, & we tore it in right & left, they broke in at one or two points, but those that got in never got out no more, they were bayonetted instantly, one little incident occurred here that is
They never got much more than half-way the second time, we had some fine shots among us & they made nearly every shot tell, it was like shooting rabbits, coming out of a warren, they were just about as helpless, the chaps almost quarreled with one another for the right to stand on the platform's so as they could get a good cut at them many of them got on top & even pulled the parapets down in their eagerness, for a fly at them, this is how a good few got killed, what a time it would have been for a counter-attack, but worse luck we never had the men. General Birdwood told us after that all we could muster was 10,000 men & 40 guns against at least 30,000
Turkish regulars & go gun's pretty big odds, but they could attack for ever if they could attack for ever if they didn't put more dash into their charges, & would never have taken our trenches, during those 2 days Len accounted for 30 Turks & Wagga got about 20 more, he was a very fine shot was Wagga, I never had the opportunity they did for I was in charge of the post we were on, & had to look after the men & see that ammunition was kept up & etc etc but still for all that I got a few though not nearly so many as Len or Wagga bagged. A couple of days after this General Walker congratulated Len on his shooting & his name was taken, I could never understand, why more did not come out of it, he must have lost the
paper with the names on it.
The ground between the trenches was simply covered with Turkish dead, there was a blind trench just in front of D. companys trench that was simply a mass of dead & wounded Turks, they let them get in there so as a machine gun could enfilade them but hanged if the machine gun didn't block after firing about 60 rounds, & the boys had to shoot them over the parapet, & never a man escaped.
The Light Horse never took no part in this scrap at all, they were in reserve in the gully, this was purely an infantry affair, though our artillery & Indian batteries done some fine shooting, the way the Indian batteries behaved on the first day
or so of the landing is beyond all praise, they suffered heavily too. The Indians of all tribes are on fine terms with the Colonials, & they think the Colonials are marvel's.
We had some Japanese bomb throwers in action here they used to throw a bomb weighing 28 lbs away up into the air & you could watch it coming down with the bomb throwing a shower of sparks behind it, like the tail of a comet, they were a deadly thing & done a lot of damage.
On the 22nd May the Turks hoisted the flag, & all firing ceased. General Walker went out with an interpreter to see what they wanted, they had come out to arrange an armistice, but they wanted 24 hours, & we would not listen to that of course, so they
arranged that they should meet at a certain hour on the next day, which they did, & arranged an 8 hour armistice we were to bury all men half way between our lines & the Turks, while they were to do the same with their half all our biggest men were picked for the job, no doubt to impress the Turks with the physique of the Australians, & I suppose they done the same, in front of our companys lines they got no less than 167 rifle bolts off Turkish rifles, we took their bolts & handed the rest of the rifle back & they done the same with our's, I could never see the sense of that, but I suppose they would have a job to get other bolts to fit. Some of the German officers showed themselves, & the Turkish
officers & ours exchanged cigarettes & the Turks done the same with our men, while the armistice was on a number of Turks rushed across the ground separating the trenches & gave themselves up, The Turkish officers then so as to stop this sort of thing ordered all men to keep their heads down & we never saw much more of them after that, excepting of course those who were helping to bury the dead our fellows wore a white bandage with a red cross, while they had the crescent on theirs, they wont recognise a red cross.
The first estimate of 4000 Turkish killed was found to be a long way below the estimate it was more like 7000, without their wounded, they were taught a lesson that day.
On the 25th our old friend the "Triumph" was sunk, we could see her quite plainly from where we were at that time (the Bluff) she overturned & her great red hull showed up so plainly, in about 10 minutes there was a swarm of destroyers & torpedo boats rushing all round her picking up the survivors with a pair of glasses we could see the men quite plainly hanging on to her
e, we all felt very sorry at her going down, for many a time when we were getting a hot time from the Turkish guns she would quieten them for us, I don't think they ever got the submarine that settled her.
And the following day my mate Young Duke was killed stone dead, he was sniping at the
time & Len was observing for him, & I was sitting down having my breakfast, when without any warning he fell at my feet, with half his head blown off, I got a terrible shock I can tell you, a bigger one than you have any idea of, I couldn't touch him, & called some one else in to take him away, I was a good bit down hearted for some time after this I know I got what things I could of his & sent them home to his people, as he asked me to do if ever he got knocked & Len went round to the orderly room & got his revolver which he promised him if ever he got knocked, poor Wagga was buried down by the beach & this much I know, that a clergy man read the burial service over him but try as I would I could
never find his grave, he was as game a lad as ever looked through the sights of a rifle, & I shall never forget him. A few days after this I saw a little broad daylight charge of about 30 Turks they tried to rush the 16th Battalion I think it was we could see them quite distinctly for they were not more than 300 yards away we put a cross fire on to them as they went across, needless to say it was a failure & only 3 of them reached their trenches alive on the return run, their bodies lay there for months afterwards just where they fell, some little time before this I had a very narrow squeak a piece of shrapnel hit my hat & went through & carried away a piece of the scalp right on top of
my head the place is quite bare yet & no hair grows on it. The next little bit of excitement was on the night of the 5th June, when Lieut, Llyod of A Coy. took 48 men out to destroy a machine gun which was making things very hot for the 16th Batt. who were on our left, they got across alright & done their job, & also a few Turk's, & then they started on the return journey but by this time every Turk within ½ a mile knew of their whereabouts, & so they start to let fly for all they were worth, & of course we had to reply, & try to keep their fire down, but in spite of this, they had 7 men killed, & nearly 30 wounded Lieut. Llyod got the Military Cross for this. For months after we landed the Turks used to fire furiously all night long, they were very frightened of a night attack
There was very little doing for a long time after this, beyond the ceaseless digging, which never stopped, everyone was as lousy as a bandicoot, I had not changed my clothes for weeks, for the simple reason I had none, & nearly everyone was in the same street, water was as precious as gold, & quite as scarce, so a wash was out of the question, for at that time men could not be spared from the trenches, to go to the beach, there were such a few of us. On the evening of the 28th June the Turks rushed us suddenly, but they found us ready for them, & were beaten back easily in this scrap they lost over 300 men in killed alone, the Light Horse bore the bunt of this attack, & things were very unhealthy between the trenches for a while.
The next day we left for a week & well earned rest at "Imbros". I spent one of
the most enjoyable weeks there as ever I did in my life, I had a £ 1 or two, at the time, & we, bought plenty of milk nuts fruit & etc, & if ever we enjoyed those few articles well it was here, we had been without them so long, & it was a much needed change of food. It was summer time, & the weather was delightful every morning we used to walk ¼ of a mile to a lovely little ice cold spring & have a good wash, while the rest of the day would be spent in the sea, we were all sorry when our time was up, Imbros is pretty much the same sort of place as Lemnos. We were back again in the trenches on the 8th of July, & facing "Lone Pine", the weather was now frightfully hot, & the flies were in millions, it was almost impossible to eat your meals in the day time, the pests would swarm all over it, & even go into your mouth after it, they used to nearly drive me silly
for I was always so particular about the flies, I used to have my meals early in the morning, & then again at night, I never touched anything during the day.
13th July The Turk's shelled us pretty heavily today, & killed a few, & knocked our parapets about a good deal, on the next day I had the closest call of my life, & I have had a few, it had been a scorching day & in the evening I went down for a swim there were thousands in bathing, & the water was lovely, I had a good swim & was drying myself along with 4 others on an old barge, when without any warning, I heard a terrific bang & the next thing I knew was that I was laying on my back in the water, & I could hear someone singing out I scrambled out pretty fast you bet, & saw what had happened a shell had
burst fair on the barge, & 2 of the chaps were killed one of them a Dr in the 7th Light Horse had both legs blown off, there were also 4 others badly wounded, it was a terrible sight to see the legs & arms laying about, & hard as I was quite sickened me for a while, how on earth I escaped is a mystery to me for I was right among them, you may laugh at me, but I declare I felt the pieces of shell as they shot past me, that scared me for a while as I had seen so many accidents on the beach we were inoculated that day for cholera. The 15th saw another pretty solid bombardment, & it took me all my time to dodge them, for they fell pretty thick on our trenches, this evening there were no less than 5 aeroplanes up, the first couple of months we were here, our airmen used to drop a lot of bombs on the Turks
17th had a visit from a Turkish aeroplane this evening, she dropped 2 bombs one fell in the sea, & the other done no damage, you can hear & see a bomb coming down quite plainly, but you have no idea where it is going to land, they dropped a few bombs at different times containing darts they are nasty things, & it dosn't pay to get hit with them, we also had a few 11 inchers over, but they done no damage beyond blowing up the signalling stores.
18th Things are coming to a head fast we had another terrific bombardment from the Turkish howitzers, it is wonderful what a small amount of damage they have done, they put 40, 6 inch shells within an area of 100 yards on our trenches this morning 3 batteries of R.F.A. landed here with 5 in. howitzers.
19th We had some walloping shells
shot at us to-day, & one of them tried to
assinate assasinate me in my dugout so I lost no time in getting out of it
On the 22nd we had a 3 days "stand to" that meant that we had no sleep for that time, we were expecting an attack from the Turks, as it was the date of the feast of "Ramadan", but nothing came of it we were prepared for a gas attack as well we had not received any mail for just on 6 weeks, at this time, a lot of it had been sunk, mail day was quite an eventful day in the trenches, & I can tell you letters were appreciated & looked forward to nothing of any interest happened beyond the usual routine, & sniping for 10 days when a Taube caused a flutter by dropping 2 big bombs on our Coy's lines but luckily no one was hurt.
On the 1st August the 3rd Brigade
attacked & captured a Turkish trench they had 70 casualties, very light considering the distance they had to cover, all the talk now was of our coming charge & everyone was looking forward to it.
3rd Had another pretty heavy bombardment this afternoon, which knocked a few more of our fellows out, we christened a few of the Turkish guns, some of the names ran like this, "Beachy Bill" of course takes pride of place, the most destructive gun on the peninsular, Percy Jone's a fairly silent fellow, "Harry Lauder a shell which used to sing as it come along, Asiatic Annie from the Chanak forts, a big shell which never done any harm, because it always landed very thoughtfully where there happened to be no one. Wheelbarrow
Jack, a big shell which used to be shot from a mortar, it was round like a football, & used to make a creaking noise on its way to the trenches, they done a fair bit of damage, at times.
And now I come to the morning we were relieved by the 5th Batt. so as to allow us to rest a few hour's before the charge came off, we were all moved out into "Gun Lane", & "Brown's Dip" & positions allotted to us, every one was as confident as could be.
The "Light Horse" started the ball rolling, by an attack at 5 oclock in the morning on a Turkish trench, which they took, but failed to hold they were driven out by bombs, & lost a good few men, the warships had not been idle, & along with out batteries, were making the Olive Grove
one of the warmest spots on the peninsular it was a regular sea of fire & smoke their idea was to put as many of the Turkish guns out of action as they could before our charge came off, for the Olive Grove" was swarming with gun's of all calibres, & completely dominated the Pine" & all our positions.
About 4 oclock that afternoon (6th) we were all in readiness, & a fair ration of rum was served out in the tea this was a fairly regular thing, & I believe it done a lot of good, especially when we first landed, for the nights were very cold.
At 5 oclock to the minute the whole of the batteries & warships were turned on to "Lone Pine", they started off at a steady pace & increased as they went along til 5.15, when the
bombardment reached the climax, the noise was deafening, & the shells were bursting that fast, that it was impossible, to hear single shells burst, it was one continuous roar, while this was going on we were crouched in dugouts & old trenches, waiting for our turn to come, & the Turks were shelling us like mad, field-guns & howitzers, were going their hardest, & shrapnel without a word of a lie was falling like a hail storm, I will never forget our dugout there were about 20 men in it, & every 2 or 3 minutes, a monster shell would just miss us, by about 20 yards or so if one had just dropped a little short, it would have been the end of us, as it was we used to hold our breath when we heard it come roaring through the air, & everyone
would sort of grip themselves, in readiness for the shock of the concussion, I have always found it a good plan to open your mouth & stand on your toes when you are expecting a high explosive to land near you, funny as it may seem, it takes a lot of the pressure off you, I had one very severe shock at "The pimple" my stomach seemed to fly out of my mouth & eyes were pushed right back in my head & my head seemed as if it were split open, I had a job to keep myself from fainting, talk about a headache well I had one that day, there were 3 of us working at the time, & we were all thrown heavily to the ground, it was a close shave, & we could hardly move for 24 hours after it.
Len remarked to me while this shell-
-ing was going on that it was his birthday, a rather stormy one I should think & I would not like to witness many more like it, the Turks fairly drenched the little hollow where we were, with shell-fire, for they knew well enough that that was where the reserves would be. ("Browns Dip"). to give you an idea of the severity of the shrapnel fire this ought to do; we had a lot of telephone wires stretched across from one side of the Dip" to the other, & as fast as they were repaired the shrapnel cut them down again, there were a few men killed while repairing these wires it was certain death to go out but these men never hesitated, but rushed out in their turn, "brave men if you like. About 5.25. our fire slackened a bit & the Turks started to increase theirs
& just then I got a terrible shock or fright which ever you like to call it, for I distinctly saw, for the fraction of a second an 18 pounder shell coming straight for me, (I was facing Gaba Tepe" at the time) but by the greatest piece of luck it fell about a yard short & buried itself in the earth in front of us, & failed to explode I did not know what to do, for to get out of the dugout seemed certain death & to stay in it seemed the same, for the gun was pointed straight at us however I decided to stop & take my chance, they fired 3 more, & luckily none of them burst, if they had done, I should not be alive today for the furthest shell did not lob more than 3 yards away its a test of nerves I can assure you to sit there helpless & let a gun shoot at you
besides you have no hope of dodging these small shells for they travel a lot faster than the big one's
At 5.30. to the sec. all our guns stopped & there was a lull for a moment, & then Hell seemed let loose, but above the frightful din of bursting shrapnel & rifle & machine gun fire, we heard a shout, & knew that the 2nd 3rd & 4th Battalions were over, & as it turned out afterwards half our Batt. with them, it was a race against death to reach the other side, & men fell like hailstones you could see little white patches wherever you looked, for just before the charge everyone was issued with 3 pieces of white calico one for each arm & the third for the back, the idea of this was so as we could tell our own men from Turks
but it cut both ways for the Turks were not slow to notice this, & tacked it on themselves, when we found this out, we were ordered to take ours off, & we had the advantage of them for a while, & they paid pretty dear for it.
Some English officer's who watched the charge said they never thought that men would face such a murderous fire as the Australians did on that memorable evening, General Walker watched the attack, & when the first line reached the Turkish trenches they were seen to falter for some unknown reason, he grew very excited. "My God the boy's have failed" he said "No, no they haven't, I told you so, he almost shouted, as they were seen to be disappearing into the Turkish stronghold, & others
could be seen struggling with great beam's & logs, the reason for the apparent check of the first line was easily explained, for the whole of the Turkish position was made bomb proof, & even howitzer proof in places, it was a most formidable thing, & no one counted on the trenches being covered in there were a few openings here &there where men used to crawl out of a night, & down these the boy's had to drop one by one into almost certain death, for the Turks were waiting there for them, & shot & bayoneted as they jumped down, many a V.C. was won here & never recognised 40 mins after the first line we went over, & even then they were not all cleared out, & we helped round them up, & put the finishing touch on them
I saw several men sacrifice themselves here, they went to certain death, one chap in particular I remember, it came about in this way, we were chasing some Turk's round a little sap & they reached the bend first, everyone knew the first man round the corner was a dead one, but this chap never hesitated, he threw himself fair at them, & the six fired together, & fairly riddled him with bullets, that was our chance & we into them, & it was all over in a few minutes. Another little incident in these bloody trenches was rather a comical one for us but disastrous for the Turks, we had penned about 6 of them in a blind sap. & could not get at them without sacrificing life so we called on them to surrender & they answered us with shots, so after a bit of a conference we decided to get a
bomb, & use that little persuader on them one of the chaps got one & shot it in with such good effect that 5 of them were killed & the other bloke surrendered.
As we were getting over the parapet the man next to me was killed stone dead, & on the way across we lost a few more for they were still playing their machine guns & shrapnel on the ground between the trenche's, on the way over some of us got tangled in the barb wire & got nasty cuts, when we jumped down into the trenches I lobbed on something soft & on looking closer found that it was a dead Turk, the trenches were absolutely packed with them, a little further on we had 47 of them prisoned in a tunnel & Len was put guard over them, the mouth of the tunnel was sandbagged to prevent to many of them coming out at once, he had a rifle & revolver ready for them
next morning 7th they all gave themselves up, about 9 o'clock that night, while we were all busy getting our trenches in order for the expected counter attack, volunteers were called for to go over & bring some sand bags & shovels back, for we did not have enough, & they were shelling us pretty heavily, I & 4 others volunteered & I can tell you it's a funny feeling you have as you pick your way across that "no mans land" among the dead, dying & wounded, & the bullets whistling all round, we lost no time as you may guess getting across, we went to Bde, Hqrs, & the Bde. Major said we need not take any back with us, for he would see that they were sent across at once, so back we went & reached the trenches safely, we worked hard all that night, at times we had
to drop our tools, grab our guns, & fight like the devil for a while, for they were just about to start the counter attacks by 9 oclock next morning the battle was in full swing, every inch of ground was being fought stubbornly for by both sides, the losses on both sides were awful but still it never slackened time after time they rushed us only to be beaten back at the very parapet you might say, bomb fights were every where, & these accounted for most of the casualties on our side, the artillery fire was deafening, & combined with the salty acrid smell of the cordite, the rattle of machine guns & rifles the bursting bomb's, the heat & flies & dust, & the cries of the wounded men, made the blood run hot or cold in y
our veins, according to the way you looked at it
on the 7th we had some of the 12th Batt. in, & they were dished up pretty quick the battle raged furiously for 4 day's on the 9th the 7th Batt. were in a certain trench, & the Turks were attacking it furiously, with bombs shells & all manner of things a lot of our Coy were sent into reinforce them, Len & I among them, without a word of a lie the men were lying 4 deep dead in this awful trench, it was nothing more than a charnel house & I shall never forget it no less than 3 V.C.s were won in this trench, in places the Turks were only 5 yards away & they had a much superior bomb to us at the time, but in spite of their furious charge's we held it, at one time, there were only 3 of us left alive holding about 30 yards of trench.
I thought the end had come, & was quite prepared to sell my life as dearly as I could, if the Turks had only known how easily they could have taken it. The 3 of us who were left in that trench are still alive, Holme's a great mate of Len's & as game as you make them. Young Wise in the 53rd & myself, reinforcements came just in the nick of time & the trench was held. I had had no sleep for 3 nights & day's & was just about worn out, so that night I slept with my head on a dead Turks leg you might say why did I do that when I could have found some other place but let me tell you that there was hardly a square foot in those "Lone Pine" trenches that wasn't covered with dead men, however I was not troubled with any dreams, but
slept as sound as ever I slept in my life, you might have read of chaps picking up live bombs & slinging them back at the Turks, well it is quite true, any amount of our chaps done this, it requires a bit of nerve I can tell you, but I think that is about the last thing the average Australian is lacking in.
A fellow gets some curious fancies into his head when being bombed heavily I remember what mine was as I crouched against the parapet with the rifle protecting my side as well as it would at one time 4 bombs fell in the trench just underneath the parapet where I was firing from, & as they lay there as it seemed to
be me for an hour but in reality only a few second's, I thought they looked
like some monstrous animal with big green eyes & smoke coming out of its mouth, when they used to explode they would daze me for a minute by the concussion, my rifle saved me several times from getting a bad wound for pieces of bomb buried into the stock more than once while protecting my ribs, I got a few nasty gashes on my hand & leg one day from small pieces of pieric bomb.
On the 10th we came out of that Hell & in "Brown's Dip" I saw George Vaughan what a few we were compared to the lot as went in, we lost just on 400 men for 4 day's fighting you can imagine what kind of a state we were in after such a rough & tumble.
Our Artillery skittled a few Turk's before the charge for I saw any amount
of them blown absolutely to atoms the flesh hanging in long shred's & clothes torn to ribbon's this was done by the concussion from lyddite shell's in lots of places the sides of the trenches were quite yellow from the fumes of this explosive, & one old Turk I saw was sitting down making bricks as dead as a stone Our captures in Lone Pine" were about 250 prisoners 8 machine guns about 2,000,000 rounds of Mauser ammunition & various other things, there were a few German officers killed in here, & the boys cut all their buttons off as souvenirs After the severe fighting died down over a 1000 dead men were taken from these trenches & goodness knows how many more were buried in there some trenches were that full of dead that they could not move the
bodies on account of the frightful stench arising from them, for it was summer time, & the heat was terrific, & the flies in countless millions.
These 4 day's fighting were considered to be the severest hand to hand fighting since the Battle of Inkerman" in the Crimean War, that was how the English paper's looked on it, theres no one knows how or has any idea what that place was like unless they were actually in it the Turks fought as fairly & as brave as it was possible for men to fight.
Most of the dead men were taken out of the Pine" & buried in "Brown's Dip" the Turks were buried in a big long grave, & our chaps where possible were laid to rest in a decent grave, the "Connaught Rangers" an English regiment done the burying, they used to
put a rope round the Turks head or neck & drag him out that way, one of the parson's caught them doing this to one of our chap's, he stopped it at once & made them carry our dead out on a stretcher which was only right, often a mans head would pull off & then there would be a stink often & often I have been as sick as a dog when going into the Pine" trenches for it was nothing to see a mans leg's sticking out & flesh falling away from him in black lumps absolutely putrid talk about hum". As we were coming out of the Pine" Len picked up a ring & he has it to this day, though he has lost it several times, it has been found again. It was funny the morning after the charge (7th) to look down in Johnstones Jolly" &
th see the confusion
that reigned down there men galloping about everywhere dogs barking men ducking for their lives for we were popping them over wholesale, the captured position overlooked it, & this was the Turkish headquarters they had quite a small town there, & I can assure you they found it pretty hot in 5 shots Len shot 2 mules & 3 Turks it was funny in one way there, 2 old Turks were coming down a little rise about 300 yards off & Len was waiting for them when they got to a certain part he let drive & dropped the mule & one fellow was pinned under him & the other run for his life, he let fly & sprawled him out lovely, by this time the other wily old Turk had got clear of the mule & was making a dash for a trench but he
failed to reach it by about 5 yards, for down he come, it dosn't make much difference to Len whether they are running or not he is an absolutely dead shot, he also shot an old Johnny Turk with his automatic in the Pine"
It seemed lonely for a while after this affair for so many of our mates were killed, McShane Griffiths, Brown, Curtiss, Walsh Eady, Hopkins, Bradford, Hayward, all were dead & lots more wounded.
It took us till the 12th to get things straightened up a bit, & then on the 13th we had a very hot time, they introduced the famous 75, she skittled 30 out of 60 men who were holding a dangerous part of the line in a few minutes "By Jove" they are an awful gun I am very pleased we have not many of them to face I can quite understand how the French
slaughter the German's with this deadly weapon, they travel that fast that they are ½ a mile past you before you hear the report of the gun, that is if you are lucky & still alive, I have seen them come through a parapet 4 bags thick & burst in trench the killing or wounding all in it, I sent the cap of one home that just grazed my head, & killed my mate who was standing alongside me.
The trenches were alive with maggots & when trying to get a few winks of a night they would crawl all over you, & the place was even worse than out own trenches for lice & fleas, so you can see what with one thing & another, it was no holiday in there besides nearly everyone was nearly dead with a sort of dysentery, & to eat your meals or to try & get a little quiet place was impossible on
account of the cursed flies.
You ought to have seen the Turkish loop-holes they were riddled with bullets & directly behind them the timber was a mass of hole's, which proved beyond the shadow of a doubt the accuracy of our rifle fire, I guess there were a few killed in those trenches before the capture of them, Lone Pine trenches were nothing more than a warren there were trenches running everywhere, & we were constantly getting bushed in them, the second night in there when the bombing was so bad our fellows were getting cut to pieces for want of them, the cry was more bombs "more bomb's" & I was one of a chain who were passing them as fast as ever we could & we were wondering how much faster they were using them, than we
could pass them, we all thought it funny that they were being used so fast, for we couldn't send them any quicker at last some one noticed that we were handling the same bags over & over again, it appears that we were passing them round & round in a circle all through some officious sergeant who would not let them down a certain sap, he got into a nice row over that for it nearly lost us the position.
The wounded in Lone Pine" had a very rough time, the first lot had to lay in there nearly 24 hours, while they were cutting the sap through, how they must have suffered poor devils" we had 2 big communication saps nearly through before the charge, the engineers & our fellows had been tunnelling for weeks they were called B5, & B.8.
We had 5 guns that I know of knocked out during this battle 4 field guns & 1 howitzer blown to piece's
On the night of the 14th August the Turks made a bomb attack on the section of trench our platoon were holding but it speedily fell through I think we dropped most of them with rifle fire, we saw them come out quite plainly for we always keep a very strict lookout at this time we were using nearly all jam tin bombs made by ourselves they are very effective if they lob in among men, but are dangerous to handle for sometimes they don't look to be alight, & all the time are burning we had a good few of our men killed with these for a time, until they started to po
ision the fuse's which meant putting gelignite down the fuse so as
you could see it burning, they were mostly 5 sec. bomb. Our guncotton bomb was a snifter, the concussion from them would do the trick, if the Turks were troublesome in certain parts we would send them over a slab (like a lb of butter on a pat) & that would stop them. On the 17th. we held a meeting in Gun Lane" called by Colonel Dobbin to celebrate the first anniversary of the forming of 1st Battalion, while the speeches were on, the shells were flying about pretty heavy, but we were pretty well used to them by this time & did not take much notice of it, at the conclusion every one of the old hands had a tot of rum & some packets of cigarettes issued to them, & all drank success to the Battalion, the next day the father of the Battalion
as we used to call him Major Davidson was badly wounded & died a few days after he was a very fine fellow & popular with us all his death cast quite a gloom over the Batt. for he had been right through up to then.
On the 19th the 17 & 18 Battalion's landed, I went down to see if I could find a chap who worked on the same station as I did, but could not find him, my word" they were a fine body of men, so noticeable to after the English troops that we used to see about Suvla & Anzac" they were the first Battalions to land of the 2nd Div. though some of their reinforcements were there before their Batts, & we had them in Lone Pine", gathering all the old rifles ammunition equipment & such like
On the 21st there was a very violent bombardment & heavy rifle fire on our left, our chaps & N.Z.s captured a fine well & about 300 rifles & a few prisoners that day, how the Colonial troops stood out on their own during that fierce month of battles (August) both in dash, resourcefulness, daring & pure bull-dog tenacity, the world knows, & its not over-rated either
24th news reached us to-day of the cutting up of the 18th Batt. in a charge they were not long before they were in it, they & the Gurkhas were together the Gurkhas are fine little soldiers they are very much like a Chinaman they have their features, all they think about is getting to close quarters with the enemy, they then throw their rifle away & pull
out their kukri a sort of knife they then grab the enemys bayonet with one hand regardless of cuts, & slash their heads off their shoulder's they put the fear of God into both German's & Turk's, they used to cut the Turks ears off & hang them up & one fellow they got on the hospital ship had a Turks head in his haversack, & he did not like parting with it either, they thought an awful lot of the Australian's & our chaps treated them well, they will take cigarettes from you, but the Sikhs won't, of course it is against their religion they are very funny people. At Anzac" they had goats which they used to kill themselves, & they done all their own cooking they will give you things but will accept very little in
return, they had a mountain battery there & done all the work with the mules when first we landed we had a lot of Armenian refugee's working the mules but they were all sent away I think they suspected some of them were spies.
The next day there was a terrific bombardment of Achi Baba, they used to give this place some awful hammerings, we could see the shells burst quite plainly from Anzac for we were perched up on high hills, Anzac" was easily the roughest & hilliest of the 3 landings the pictures & photos give only a faint idea of the steepness of the position we held its a wonder we were never pushed clean off it, but they had one good try & that satisfied them
On the 30th there was a pretty lively bomb attack & things were pretty hot for awhile it was a dark night so the Indian batteries sent up a few star shells they fire them from 9 pounder guns they are very pretty for when the shells burst they used to burst into 9 or 10 different balls of light & they would slowly drift down showing a brilliant light, woe betide anyone caught outside then for he was a goner, early one morning as I was peering over the parapet I thought I saw something move slowly, I watched it pretty close, & I saw a shot come from a certain object I up with my rifle took a good aim & shot an old Turk dead he had been out sniping & was behind a sandbag not 10 yards away
about this time Len shot a Turk 900 yards way Capt Woodforde spotted him, & he sent for Len, & hanged if he didn't floor him first shot you could see him quite plainly through the telescope throw up his arms & sink down dead as a stone.
We had a pretty rough time in the Pine" we used to do 48 hours at a stretch that meant no sleep you had to rest as well as you could in the little narrow trench, & we were just about done those of us who were left we were weak as cats our clothes were hanging off our back's, & we hardly had strength to stand up the rumours were going about that we were to be relieved by the 2nd Division & everyone was looking forward to it you can bet.
The Southland" with the 21 & 23rd Battalions on board was torpedoed on the 2nd Sept. she was towed into Lemnos harbour in a sinking condition, there were about 16 men drowned including Colonel Linton. The next day there was a pretty heavy artillery duel & shells were flying like hail, they meant to hurt someone if possible.
On the 4th the 6th Brigade arrived & I can tell you it put heart into us for now we knew we were going to be relieved at last, everyone was as happy as could be, & the nights & day's seemed a terrible length 2 days after this the first of the 6th Bde came into Lone Pine" & we broke them in, & they gradually took it over from us, how fresh &
healthy they looked compared to us poor worn out lot, they reckoned we looked awful & so we did they lost a few men at once through being inquisitive poking their heads over the parapet in board daylight but they soon took a tumble.
On the 8th we handed over the Pine" to them & we filed out of her & no one was sorry, though she was pretty safe when we left her, we worked day & night improving the parapets building new trenches & communication saps putting new loopholes in & building bomb proof shelters towards the last the bomb were dealt with in a very practical way, we used to have a man at every post with a blanket & when ever a bomb lobbed in the
trenches a blanket would be slung on to it at once, its wonderful how it will smother a bomb they are practically harmless under the blanket, one day in the trenches a chap saved his life by his presence of mind he was carrying a sandbag & a bomb lobbed right at his feet, he dropped the bag on it at once & just in time for off she went & never touched him, the best plan is if there is no cover to throw yourself flat on the ground for they all strike upward milk-dished shape. That same night as we left the trenches, we camped in Whites Gully" for about 4 hours waiting for the ship to come in to take us away for our spell, we were a nice looking crowd, I had no seat in my pants
half of an felt hat, no sleeves in
our my tunic no socks on, old worn boots & filthy underwear rotten with vermin Len had an old helmet that you would not pick out of the gutter in ordinary times short pants with about 6 in of leg in them a tattered tunic & old boots, this was practically the same with every man of the whole Brigade, & every man from the Brigadier down would be lousy as could be, "oh we were a nice looking lot of heroes", but we had been through something that not every man had besides a lot of us had been there from the start 25th April to 9 Sept & going for our lives the whole time. It was the old 1st Division that made Australia's name. & done the severe fighting, & dug all the
saps & trenches & lost the good men the Brigade numbered about 800 in spite of the 6 lots of reinforcements we had received.
About 12 o'clock that night we set off for the beach, old Beachy Bill was sending a few in now & again just by way of pastime, it would have been stiff luck to have stopped one just then but one fellow did get hit about a mile out to sea the bullets use to travel a long way out, we all got aboard about day light the 1st & 2nd Batt. were on the one boat "Partridge she had to her credit the sinking of the V.15, she was a very fast little boat, the crew treated us well on her, the morning was a bonzer nice & sunny, we all lounged about on deck, from
Anzac" to Lemnos was a distance of some 40 miles & we carved it out in about 2 hour's.
As we entered Lemnos a destroyer led us through the nets for the entrance is netted against submarines, once into the harbour we were right, the bay was just crowded with shipping including the Aquitania" the biggest ship in the world at present sailing.
By Jove she looks an enormous size & has 4 immense funnels that you could drive a railway engine through with ease, the Mauretania" was also there converted to a hospital ship, & hundreds of other ships were anchored there a lot of them were loaded with ammunition for Russia, & were waiting for the Straits to be forced, they will have a long
wait I am thinking there were also a good few warships in there, & I noticed the Ribble" the destroyer that towed us across on the morning of the 25th April.
We were landed about 11 oclock that morning & some of the chaps were that weak that a motor ambulance fetched them round to the camp as we passed the hospital the Dr's & nurses came out & had a look at us & I heard one nurse say poor fellows they look more fit for the hospital than anything else & she was right half of them knocked up before they got round to the camp, on the way over we had to cross a long arm of the sea a sort of backwater it was a short cut so you can bet we went across it
though it was up to our thighs in places, arrived at Sarpy camp thoroughly knocked up, & were detailed off to tents, how glad we were to throw our packs & rifles off & to get outside & buy some grapes & figs the grapes were very plentiful & cheap you could buy enough for 3d as you could eat, but they soon drove the price up I can't stand the Greeks at any price everyone gorged themselves with fruit for you know we were fruit hungry & it was a sort of craving we had on us needless to say we paid pretty dearly for it the next day didn't our stomachs ache & roll, eggs also were plentiful & we used to get any amount of them & cook them for our tea
all that afternoon the boys kept straggling home one by one for some of them had to have a dozen spells before they could get round.
Needless to say we slept soundly that night, for we were away from the sound of the guns for the first time for many months, & we missed them but in the right way next morning we had a good breakfast & had the day to ourselves the first thing we done as you might guess was to have a good clean up wash & shave, there was no roll call that day, some of us washed our clothes over at the well, there was a bonzer spring there & we made full use of it, a day or two after this we were all issued with new
clothes, & felt like new men, the old lousy clothes were all burnt & we were clean once more.
I must now close this book at this stage, I will write the rest of my experiences in another one everything in this is absolutely true as far as I can remember there are no lies in it & anyone reading it can believe whats written.
It has been a task but I have stuck at it, & I am about full of it for a time, I hope all at home will find something of interest in it for them, for that is the reason why I wrote it. I must now finish, my next job will be to get it home safe. I don't like trusting it through the mail, but I must find some plan
Anyone finding this little book will they please forward to the following address
Mrs G.A. Barwick
Page 73 Sakahara spelling is alternately Sakkara, Saqqara and Sakara]
[Transcribed by Donna Gallacher for the State Library of New South Wales]